Can i play a standard guitar through my Bass amp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by hanx, May 31, 2009.

  1. I've heard of it being done (most recently by a local Brisbane band called The Dead), but i've also heard it's a bad idea?

    I want a new toy, namely a standard (trebble?) guitar, i do preffer bass, but i kind of want a guitar to mess with as well. Would i need a new amp as well? I have a medium sized practice amp, a Peavey 10" 20W "MAX10 bass".

    I don't want to spend too much. If i can use that amp with a trebble guitar, i could get a nice little Epiphone SG entry-level or somthing else in that price range. If not, i might just get a cheap little no-name starter kit like my kid-brother has.

    the cable at least works for both, right?
  2. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    Please, everyone join in and discuss this so that I may add it to the FAQ's. ;)

    Be helpful or I will delete your post(s).
  3. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    What's there to discuss? :)

    "Can i play a standard guitar through my Bass amp?"


    Or perhaps someone can also chime in with a technical explanation why you can play a guitar through a bass amp.
    Bassdirty likes this.
  4. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    There is the debate over distortion and bass cab tweeters. I guess that is something. :D

    EDIT: Forgot to add the whole frequency range of the cabs and the EQ's as well.

    Come on, lets answer this question definatively.
  5. You wont do any damage to the amp or guitar.

    But it has its disadvantages. Guitar amps often have built in distortion or reverb that you may want, that your bass amp wont have. If you want these you will need pedals.

    Quality of sound? If you are starting out you probably wont notice the difference. I sure couldn't when I first picked up a guitar.

    But there is a difference in sound. I prefer to play my electric through a 15watt practice (guitar) amp over my 410+115 bass rig. Just sounds better.... I could probably eq out enough of the bass and mess around with it to get what I want but why bother?

    But it doesnt work the other way around. Don't plug a bass into a guitar amp, crank the amp up, and then expect the speaker to survive. I think you can probably imagine why.
  6. Stempelloos


    Nov 3, 2008
    Yes, you can play guitar through a bass amp (and bass through a guitar amp if you keep the volume down, but you'd better don't).
    There are a few warnings for guitars though bass amps though.
    Bass speakers aren't made for the higher frequencies that a guitar
    can spit out. So if you blast your guitar through a bass amp in the higher tones, it will sound worse than a guitar amp and you could cause some damage to the speakers. A bassplayer that had a go on my synthesizer
    through his bass amp was left with a nasty buzz in his speaker cabinet after he made it scream in the higher range.
  7. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, I know how serious Kelly is :D so here's a serious answer...

    You can, but there are some issues like tweeters and preamp voicings that lend themselves to bass more than guitar. However, I think my guitar sounds kickass through my B-15 and SVT, which are bass amps that actually lend themselves to double duty.

    Then there's the issue of solid state, which is generally not looked upon with favor by guitarists. OTOH, it's not going to hurt a bass cab to run guitar like it can hurt a guitar cab to run bass, for the aforementioned obvious reasons. So my advice is to have fun with it.
  8. Due to the full range clean non distorted neutral tone of modern bass guitar amps, they make pretty good acoustic instrument amps IME. This may be why bass amp makers very often have acoustic instrument ranges also; MarkBass, Trace Elliot, Hartke, for example.
  9. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008

    I once tested an acoustic guitar through a Trace Elliot bassamp.
    Sounded full and rich, the extra bottom end gave another dimension to the sound of an acoustic guitar. More dark and mellow, less sparkle. Ideal for blues acoustic guitar IMO.
    The consensus in my band back then was that an acoustic guitar sounded a lot better through my bass amp then through one of the guitarists Marshall fullstack.
  10. dan85


    Apr 27, 2009

    I think a good rig would be:
    guitar -> modeler (a mullti-effects unit, with simulation of amplifiers) -> bass amp (I'm talking solid state here).

    The modeler will give you the basic guitar amp sounds, whereas the bass amp will provide amplification: its advantages over a guitar amp are:
    - much less colored sound, which will reproduce more faithfully the output of the modeler;
    - more powerful equalization capabilities, very useful for finding a place in the mix;
    - more power than guitar SS amp counterparts (not in your case though, 20W is not much even for guitar amplification standards - good for beginning and practicing though).
  11. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    Yes ... but here is the thing you may want to do

    My guitar player has one of those nifty POD things that is designed to plug directly into a sound board,
    the device has amp emulation and that works pretty well to make very convincing guitar amp sounds

    ;) ... Not the be all end all but certainly a good place to start
  12. Sartori

    Sartori Supporting Member

    Certainly you can play a guitar through a bass amp.

    You just don't want to play a bass through anything connected to a guitar speaker, as at anything more than very low volumes, you might blow the speaker.
  13. WarriorJoe7

    WarriorJoe7 Banned

    Mar 12, 2004
    Syracuse, NY
    Ever heard of the old fender bassman amp. It was a bass amp made famous by guitar players.

    But I may warn, not all bass amps are voiced right for guitar, and if you have cheap tweeters (which are luckily cheap and easy to replace) you might kill them.
    Staredge likes this.
  14. this sounds great :)

    I can get guitar and feed it thorugh my little practice bass amp, and it shouldn't insult my guitar any more than it insults my bass, then if i want to upgrade my amp (as i am becomming increasingly tempted to do) i can get one that would suit both?

    sweeeeeeetttt... gonna be keeping an eye out for a sale on guitars now...

    do you know if i would void the warranty on a bass amp by playing a guitar thorugh it? i know my warranty didn't cover miss-use, does playing a guitar thorugh it count as miss-use?
  15. Sartori

    Sartori Supporting Member

    I don't think so. It's fairly common knowledge that you can play guitar through bass speakers but not the other way around.

    After all, as others have mentioned, the good old Fender Bassman was a great guitar amp.

    I've played guitars through my Ampeg, no trouble and a pretty decent sound.
  16. In terms of sound, would it be worth getting a real cheap and nasty guitar so i could afford/justify a purpose-built amp, or would i get a better overall sound from an ok guitar through a bass amp? I am rather fond of metal, so it seems a guitar thorugh a bass amp may even be more what i am looking for than a guitar through a guitar amp?

    My current amp doesn't even sound that impressive with a bass through it, but i guess it seems from what you all say, that when i look for an upgrade i can find one that makes bass sound good and guitar sound ok (or interesting) quite easily.

    What do you mean by tweeters? How do i know if i have any in my current 10"/20W? and is there anything else i may break?

    And my current one claims to be a "transtube" where does that fit in with the solid-state concept?
  17. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    I assume you have the Peavey Max 110. Don't worry, it doesn't have a tweeter. (AFAIK)
    You can play a guitar through that with no problems, and no risking damaging it.

    I bought a MIM Telecaster guitar last year. Awesome guitar. At first I played it through my Ashdown Perfect Ten.
    A little later I did a great deal on a Line 6 Spider 30 guitar amp.
    For the sound of the guitar itself a guitar amp will always be nicer. Especially for heavy metal distortion. This is the only thing I do on the guitar. :D
    The Line 6 Spider is good enough for my guitar needs, being an undedicated guitarist.

    But untill you find a good cheap guitar amp (or when your budget allows it) go ahead and play through your bassamp.
  18. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009
    Here's a novice answer to a technical question. A Bass Speaker is designed for much further movement in the cone than a Guitar Speaker. To keep a nice tight guitar sound the cone is designed for less movement. If you run a bass through a guitar speaker and turn up the volume too high it will cause the cone to move beyond it's normal limits and blow the speaker. I personally doubt the statement that running a guitars high frequency through a bass speaker will cause it damage and the guy who did so had some other non related problem. An early Fender Bassman really was a guitar amp. The speakers had not yet developed into being able to handle high volume electric bass guitar but worked ok for double bass. Now my Roland Cube Bass 100 which is a bass amp has built in Delay, Chorus, Reverb, Distortion and useless Compression. It works fairly well for Jazz Guitar.
  19. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    :confused: For double bass?

    The Bassman was designed for bass guitar, but technically it was just a guitar amp that was a bit different from other guitar amps back in the day.

    Later on better suitable amps for electric bass were made, but the original Bassman found sort of a "second life" with many guitarists.
  20. Greevus


    Apr 15, 2009
    I fried my GK 400RB while playing guitar through it. I was going for that AC/DC sorta clean distortion and it didn't work. I would get a guitar head. Never seen a bass do it to a guitar amp though.